But our national "resistance" is nor merely playing a game. And unlike the All Blacks, its "victories" are not quite as real, and much more costly...
One example is the “debate” about climate change. Most fail to understand degree of uncertainty associated with numerous possible outcomes; arch-conservatives feel they are being misled by tree huggers, which leads Gaia’s disciples to the belief that humans are beyond redeeming.
In our local corner of the Muddle East, another example of this confusion leads us to the “debate” going about the text of the “ministerial statement”. There is little one should add to it all; the whole debate is out of context, since
In engineering terms, failure is all that matters; once a system has reached failure state, collapse is but a formality. After computations determine that the “Failure Threshold” has been reached, the only thing keeping the system together is not “computable”; most methods are inherently simplistic, making unrealistic assumptions such heterogeneity, non-isotropy...etc. Most importantly, they ignore the time dependence of many parameters.
This is why communication of risk information is so difficult, especially when you are dealing with a self-deluded patient, with an emotional stake in the continuation of their illusions. Someone such as a Lebanese politician...
Yes, the July ’06 War led to the complete failure of the Lebanese state. But we have done much locally to help along; after those who claimed March 14th betrayed its ideals, the country had been inching slowly towards collapse, from the Hezb’O’demos, to the last Hezb’O’Coup. Those who saw Lebanese “leaders” falling over one another to “welcome” the returning hero mistook the whole enterprise for a disgusting display of hypocrisy. Yet it was a little more than that; it was an exercise in survival by politicians who knew, deep down, that the state was gone.
For the time being, in the absence of a state, they had to compose with the country’s new masters, until the day when conditions change. In true Lebanese fashion, they were applying the old adage;
الإيد يلّي ما فيك تكسرا, بوسا و دعي علياّ بالكسر
“The hand that you cannot break, kiss it, and curse upon it to be broken”
Heck, it May Work... Again
It worked for the Egyptians, Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Umayyads, Abbasids, “Franj”, Seljuks, Ottomans, Egyptians, French, Ottomans, and French.
It (almost) worked on the Syrians and Israelis.
It may work (again) on the Persians.
But this all means that all the current talk about the “New Government” hardly matters. At best, it serves as a way to dish out (local) patronage in the run-up to (eventual) elections, and can only be effective as long as (foreign) patronage does not interfere. At worst, it will act as a bad administrator of the country’s chaos, as most of us struggle to survive out of the mess.
Yet, while we may survive as we did before,
The country may turn back from it, but as individuals, the best we can do is to hedge accordingly.
More likely, those dragging us down this road will lead us to a renewed civil war. The “Maronite regime” was yesteryear’s “isolationism”, the “Shiite domination” is today’s “Persian hegemony”. But this time, as we delve deeper into the hell of Sunni-Shiite war, the effects could easily spill-over across the border, as the Alawite regime next door struggles to deal with the legacy of
Our best hope lies with our “leaders” sense of self-preservation; lets we forget, none of those who started the first civil war survived it.
So, we may be stuck, we may be doomed. But if we’re not going down fighting, at least we’ll go down laughing. Let our good ol’ Lebanese humour be our weapon… That bring back to memory Jeanneton, an old children “naughty” song/tune. I am glad to see still has popular appeal, and I can’t wait to browbeat my kids for singing it (yes, some healthy hypocrisy...). Especially the "à poil" version:
Let’s hope we can still laugh about this whole sorry episode come January; when the new guy clocks in at the oval office... And since we're not likely to get over our reliance on the kindness of strangers;
Let's hope his asking price will still be too high.
Let's hope his asking price will still be too high.
The many paradoxes of
The needs of RealPolitik...
Lest we forget, we are a weak country stuck in a tough neighbourhood, with powerful neighbours led by greedy clans. I am convinced most Syrians and most Israelis want peace. However, their respective leaderships are driving them to war.
The Syrians are given little choice; through brutality and intimidation, they are dictated by an uncompromising mafia clique. All the ambition that went into an otherwise grand ambition for the establishment Greater Syria has been reduced to secure the survival of a parasitic regime.
The Israelis give themselves little choice; through fear and misinformation, they are manipulated by an uncompromising paranoid political class. All the ingenuity that went into an otherwise grand ambition to “make the desert bloom” has been diverted to colonize an already inhabited “
But the neighbourhood is only half the story.
Yes, we Lebanese are not without fault. Many of our politicians allied with those foreign powers to perpetuate their local prerogatives, often switching sides, but never taking
If you want to see a nature whose charms can be equaled nowhere, a wonderful sea, an incomparable sky, the most beautiful mountains of the world, a hideous race in whose midst emerges the most wonderful types, a society which has reached the lowest level of disorganization that one can reach before regressing back to savagery, come here.
The shorter version; we’re FUBAR beyond repair, fodder for Lebanese comedians. Yes, we wasted a historic opportunity.
But it doesn't mean we will not get (yet another) chance.
Quod Erat Faciendum
In the immediate, we now have to contend with the changed regional realities, and wait. Either the interests of bigger (but not greater) powers are realigned with ours, or our “current” enemies will make a mistake.
We’ve been lucky before. I am confident we’ll be lucky again. But our only option now is to wait this storm out, till better climes come. And they will Better times will come.
But all of us will remain.
Interestingly, it now appears that many others have now fallen into our past delusion, and most of them feel Obama is the stronger candidate.
Only the Iraqis appears to be playing their cards properly...
I am now certain that the past May events had a “French touch”. We Lebanese have many faults, but we're not suicidal. At least, our leaders are not. It now appears that the French arranged some of this past "almost war" in May; they pushed Joumblatt into confronting Hezb, and then knowingly abandoned the government to the Hezb'O'Rampage. This was too well-ordered a "retreat". A lame-duck US administration could then do little more than “drop” March 14th, and open the way for the
The way forward is unclear. The Israelis, understanding that Syria’s options are limited, are pushing for three key concessions from Bashar; to veer away from Iran, to cede their rights on the Golan’s water, and to push permanently settle Palestinians refugees in Lebanon.
None of those will have lasting power.
First, The Syrian economy is far too tied to
Will Bashar Be Back?
At first look, yes. The Israelis appear to push hard for such a deal at the expense of
Paradoxically, Lebanon has been paying for the Israeli defeat in 2006. In a sense, this weakening of
We have reached satisfactory borders [as a result of the June 1967 war], except with
When will the Israelis realize that Arab leaders cannot just sign things away? Even dictators have to contend with popular will. Arafat could not “deliver” the Palestinians without proper consideration for the right of return. In the post 9/11 context and in the face of strong Saudi objections to his return to
In his waning days, Bush appears to be betting on a diplomatic “Hail Mary” pass on Iran. But little tangible will come of it; the Iranians will fundamentally prefer to deal with the next administration; in the past, for all Carter’s efforts, it is Reagan who collected.
I feel the recent policies are simply mistaken of our neighbours are simply mistaken. To the
It is a price none of our powerful neighbours can afford.
So, considering the need to revive Zahrani and rebuild the TAPLINE, I doubt the West woudl allow Syria control over such a strategic lifeline.
In addition to undermining US interests, current Israeli policies are misguided; even if its existence is now an undeniable fact, Israel’s legitimacy still rests on a final and fair settlement with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has it right;
In light of all this, the French role is limited. Even if they invited all the dictators to the Bastille “freedom” day parade, French desires can never trump Americans interests in the region. And Even as Ghawar dwindles,
So don't be too hard on Obama. Even if his convictions lie elsewhere, a president Obama will not approach the region with the same goals as a President McCain or Clinton (yeah, yeah, I know...), and will continue to follow the “Carter Doctrine”. Indeed, Obama already been “shifting” away from his “convictions”, as all"normal" politicians tend to do. Considering the misconceptions of his "entourage", and his past statements, this is change we can believe in, indeed:
However, even considering hard facts such as the allure of Iraq's oil, and the American need for a backup route out of the Gulf, minor powers will still be "Betting on Barak" and expecting a rapid withdrawal from the region...
Betting too Soon is a Mistake
It's a mistake because they're only betting on today's Barak, without accounting for changes he may need to make when faced with realities.
And there are two other reasons to consider. First, the untested candidacy of Obama may yet implode. Second, whoever the Americans elect as president, he/she (next time?) will continue grappling for oil, especially Iraq's, but neither Israel nor Syria will stop pursuing their little game in our small sandbox. And with Iran and Saudi Arabia vying for more regional power, this little lull will not last.
So, on the way to the Lebanese elections of June ’09 and the Iraqi elections of EOY '09, Expect a hot October ‘08 as the US election near, and a hotter January ‘09, when the US president is installed.
But expect an "interesting" ride in the meantime...
I have seen death.
Helplessly I stood by,
Light escaped my patient's eyes,
I have heard death,
Helplessly I stood by,
The dark angel claimed his prize,
I have smelled death,
Helplessly I stood by,
With tongue tasting the pungent haze,
I now watch death,
Cowardly I stand by,
with Child-killers standing in the glaze,
Blameless, they wait for death,
Cowardly we stand by,
Till the end of days.
Now, I've seen enough death,
And know enough to wonder why,
The point of life should be to loose it..
This “insult” was only viewed as such by the courtesans massed around the monarch; there is nothing inherent wrong with being a nation of small business owners. For, as it engages in the pursuit of happiness, the enterprising karcher can often be much wiser than the “bling-bling” elite.
The Anglo-Saxons owed their success in large part to the continuing efforts of their many enterprising children. As long as the “épiciers” were active, each person had a stake in the collective success of the nation, so
In some respect,
Our leaders have been ignoring this at our own peril. Having survived successive parasitic governments, wars and occupation, we were dealt a final blow by one misguided “Grand Homme” who committed two deadly mistakes. His first mistake was to think he could herd us all into following his economic vision, but his grand expansion of government only freed the parasitic state(s) to grow at the expense of the enterprising multitude; so the middle class withered, emigration accelerated as the debt grew. His second mistake was to think he could outmanoeuvre the sisterly “Grand Homme”, a wily leader even beyond the grave...
We soon learned that no man can be greater than his country. And we’ll learn (not soon enough) that no party can be greater than the home country.
The fact that
The French, focused on their search for such “Grands Hommes”, settle “en attendant” for poor compromises. Their pursuit of that ever elusive “Grande Idée” leads them to rather mundane short-term stop gaps.
So, at some level, today's French policies make sense.
Too bad it’s (still) such a low, low level.
The current events are part of a recurring pattern. We have seen those mistakes before. We know the outcome before hand… The Chansonniers de la Route, a Lebanese comedy team from the 80’s, put it best in a song about those foreign forces who come to “protect” us;
Voici les bleus de la marine
Les preux chevaliers de l'Occident
Ils vont du Chili jusqu'en Chine
Pour venir se faire tuer au Liban
Please excuse my current total lack of empathy; it's been a long time since I, and many others, have bee sounding the alarm and warning of the dangers of splitting hairs. So, till the next bulldozer comes your way, dig up those old Lebanese comedy reels, tapes, and 48’s.
And enjoy a few psychic moments while you still can.
Ehud Barak [...] effectively in control of the Israeli decision making process as a result of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's weakness and the allegations of corruption he currently faces”. It appears that this great liberal mind “wants the return of
I think Mrs. Dergham only scratches the surface, and her piece could go deeper. Such “Cosa Nostra” type deals are not due to the deluded scheming of one devious individual. Such deals are due to something nastier.
We owe it to a sectarian mindset that is growing all over the region. And this mindset is leading to flawed thinking. Such thinking assumes that sectarian regimes are our Arabic destiny.
But that does not have to be the case.
Secularism remains a reality.
Many forget that quite a few Arabs who opposed to the creation of a Jewish state in
However, the details of that reality are still a matter of debate, not least in
Many also forget that quite a few Arabs who opposed the creation of
However, any “Maronite Supremacy” is long gone, if it ever was present, and the future shape of the nation is still a matter of debate. In the context of that “debate”, most Lebanese instinctively took the side of secularism against any form of “Faquihism”, as they did on that famous day on
And it is among the ranks of those lefties that the Cedar Revolution found many of its adherents; their opposition to a religious state in
But the human mind has strong “self-deluding” mechanisms. Once they like a football team, they will justify any cheats and fouls provided the team wins.
Through such mental devices, a few Lebanese lefties choose to side with Hezb & Co. They fail to see the real long-term dangers, blinded by one part of the regional sectarian equation; the one defined by the “Zionist Entity”.
Through a similar mental device, many Israeli lefties are all too willing to share the bed of the Likudniks, as they see only the part of the regional sectarian equation defined by the scimitar-brandishing barbudos.
In this context, Israeli “lefties” were the first to cook-up this modern Maginot line, later perfected by the Right as the “Security Fence”, and behind which
The net result is that the example of the Cedar Revolution will be ignored, and sectarian thinking will continue to prevail in this
At least till the Maginot line fails,
Or till the legacies fades away